The Top 3 Home Security Companies in San Antonio, TX
Welcome to San Antonio Home Security Judge! We’ve spent countless hours researching over 100 home security companies, and below you will find our top 3 home security company picks in San Antonio, TX.
How to Choose the Right Home Security Company
When you are considering a home security system it can be a little overwhelming. There are so many questions, so many things to think about. How do you know what to ask? How do you weed out what is not important and only keep the information that is useful and relevant? This guide will help you cut away the unnecessary material and zero right in on just the facts that you need to consider in order to make an educated decision.
How do I know if I need a home security system?
Most homes and apartments could benefit from a home security system. There was a time when renters were told they didn’t really need a system. Those days are gone, though, and many landlords encourage it. What’s more, some renter’s insurance policies have clauses that offer discounts to renters with a home security system. Most homeowner’s policies give discounts to policy holders who have a security system in their home. Insurance companies recognize the value of home security. You can’t afford not to have one.
Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, when you take into consideration that a burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the United States, it is clear that you need to protect your home, property, and family. It no longer matters if you live in a high crime area; many burglaries occur in some of the nicest, “safest” neighborhoods around. It doesn’t matter where you live, or even how you live. A home invasion can occur at any time to any one. You need to be ready and do what you can to guard against it.
What features do I want in a security company?
There are many different types of security systems. Each has specific features that make it stand out. The features that you want depend on what you need. When you are evaluating a system, there are several areas you want to look at in order to find the right system for your home.
Types of monitoring
There are three basic ways that a home security system communicates with the monitoring center. When your system is in place and you are counting on it to keep your home secure, you want to be confident that it will be able to communicate with the monitoring center 7 days a week, 24 hours a day if it is triggered.
Cellular – When the alarm is triggered, the system communicates with the monitoring center via a cellular uplink. This system has two advantages over a landline system. It is faster and it is more reliable. If the telephone lines are cut or the phone system is inoperable the system will still work. In fact, it is often considered to be the most reliable of the various monitoring types.
Broadband – When the system is triggered it contacts the monitoring center through your broadband connection. This type of monitoring is considerable faster than a landline, at least 4 times faster. While it is less expensive than cellular monitoring, it is also typically not thought to be as reliable.
Landline – Your landline phone connection is used in this type of monitoring. The communication between the security system and the monitoring center is carried out via your landline connection. The system itself, however, may be wireless. This is often considered to be the slowest and least reliable of the types because if the landline connection is down the system cannot communicate with the monitoring center.
Types of Installation
Some home security companies offer their customers the option of having their system professionally installed or having a do it yourself (DIY) installation. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but it really comes down to personal preference.
Professional – When you have your home security system professionally installed you typically have to pay an installation fee. However, some people feel that the benefits to having a pro come in and install the system so they don’t have to outweighs the additional cost. When a professional installs you system you don’t have to worry about making a mistake while you are trying to do it.
The installer will come to your house, set up the system correctly, walk you through how to operate it, and answer any questions you may have. Systems that are professionally installed can be hardwired or they can be wireless. You do need to find out beforehand though, because if the system requires a landline you need to make the appropriate preparations.
If you are a renter or you don’t plan on moving at some point, you need to talk to the representative. Many professionally installed systems have certain stipulations attached should you wish to move it to a new house.
DIY – This method is faster, more cost effective, and no installer comes to your house. The company usually mails you your equipment, along with installation instructions and you do it all yourself.
Most DIY systems are wireless. This makes installation fairly fast and somewhat easier. Most DIY customers claim that installing their own system takes around 30 to 40 minutes.
Another benefit of DIY systems is that once you purchase the equipment, you own it so if you move you can easily take it with you. Renters often prefer this option, although some homeowners do as well, particularly if they move frequently.
Central Monitoring Stations
Many home security customers are surprised to learn that not all security companies monitor their systems even though they install them. Some companies will outsource the monitoring services to an outside company. When you are looking for a home security system it is important to first know what you want in regards to monitoring, and second, find out how your security company handles it.
Some monitoring facilities are certified, but even then there are several independent agencies that handle the certification. In the United States, the primary certification and inspection agency for monitoring stations is Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Companies that carry a certification from this agency are typically regarded more highly than others because companies that are UL listed tend to be more reliable and provide a higher level of service. This is because they have very specific regulations with which they must comply and often stringent requirements that they must meet.
Some home security companies offer a service called home automation. This feature allows you to remotely control certain things in your home like lights, small appliance, or even the thermostat using your smartphone, iPad, or other web-enabled device. You can also disarm or arm your security system remotely and some systems allow you to view surveillance remotely, either pre-recorded or live, depending on the system.
Many security companies offer home automation to some degree, but as technology advances, this option becomes more sophisticated and capabilities much broader. When you are considering a system, think about the things at home that you would like to control remotely and find a company that offers a home automation package that fits your needs.
How can I avoid being scammed by a security company?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides consumers with some guidelines for avoiding home security system scams. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous companies and dishonest sales agents that will misrepresent themselves and try to take advantage of you.
Some of the hallmark traits of home security scams, particularly in door-to-door sales, include:
- The salesperson tries to use scare tactics to pressure you into purchasing a system from them. They may tell you that there have been an increased number of burglaries in your neighborhood.
- Some agents will try to pressure you into letting them into your home only to refuse to leave when you ask them to do so. The FTC advises not allowing a sales person into your home, especially if you are not interested in the product. If they refuse to leave you are fully within your rights to call the police and have them removed – and you should do so.
- Anytime a salesperson tries to rush you into making a purchasing decision, and especially if there is a contract involved, should raise a red flag. Some agents will claim that the offer is time sensitive and will only be available for a limited time. They will insist that you must act now to get the deal which is often free equipment. This is usually a tactic to prevent you from thoroughly reviewing the contract because more often than not there are strings attached to that “special offer.” You may get free equipment, but the contract for system monitoring may be very long term and very costly.
There have been some scams that involved agents specifically targeting homeowners who have home security signs in their yard. The agent implies or may even say that they are from the homeowner’s existing security company and is offering a special to existing customers. That special may be a replacement or upgrade of the current system. However, the system the agent installs is completely new and have the homeowner sign paperwork that is actually a high priced monitoring contract.
The agent may also claim that your current security company is no longer in business and that they have taken over that company’s accounts. They will then tell you that you have to sign new contracts and purchase new equipment.
Anytime someone shows up at your door claiming to be from a home security company, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, call the company and verify the details for yourself. Ask them about the agent, the “deal,” and anything else that the agent has told you.
What questions should I ask my home security company representative?
While the home security system is important, you also want to evaluate the home security company. Ask these questions before making your decision.
Is the company licensed, insured, and bonded?
Many companies will open shop without ever registering their business or obtaining relevant licensing. Many cities require that security system installers are licensed. Those same companies usually don’t carry insurance either which protects you as much as it does them.
Is the agreement you are signing to lease the equipment or do you own it?
The main difference here is if you are leasing the equipment and you move, the equipment can’t go with you, it must remain on the premises. If you own the equipment you can take it to your new home and transfer your monitoring contract to your new home.
Is the equipment you are receiving the most current, newest equipment?
Some companies, especially those that offer “free systems” use outdated or used equipment. You want new equipment with the most current firmware and software versions available.
Are technicians available after hours to service home security equipment?
All too often, when a company closes up shop for the day their technicians go home – and off duty – as well. If your system has a problem after hours, on a weekend, or a holiday, you need to know that you will be able to get a technician out to take care of the issue quickly.
Is the protection and coverage that you want from your system the protection and coverage that you will receive?
Always read the fine print and ask questions so that you know exactly what you are getting and what any additional charges will be.
Does the company offer a warranty on equipment?
This is a good question to ask for any big ticket purchase, but when that purchase will ultimately ensure the protection of your family, home, and property it is even more important.
Do they do background checks on their employees and sub-contractors?
These people will have all of your personal information, including payment, and at least one of them will spend some time inside of your home. While a background check isn’t a guarantee, it certainly increases your chances of keeping you, your family, and your information safe.
What is the length of the contract and what does it entail?
You need to know how long you are covered by the contract and all the particulars including fee increases, additional fees, terms of monitoring, and other important information.
What entity will be monitoring the security system and what are their certifications, ratings, and qualifications?
Not all monitoring companies are created equal. The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) rates monitoring companies so look for those with a 5 Diamond rating by CSAA and UL Certified.
Does the company use a redundant monitoring center?
Redundant monitoring uses two separate monitoring stations in different locations to monitor the customer’s security system at the same time. This provides a fail-safe in case one station does down, thus ensuring the best protection and fastest response time possible.
Is the company an authorized dealer for the monitoring company?
While a security company may contract with a monitoring company as a service provider for its installed systems there may not be any guarantees or contractual commitment given to the customer that the monitoring company is obligated to respond to an emergency or alarm. Only authorized dealers can ensure that.
What should I look for in an alarm contract?
Before you sign a contract with a home security company, there are some things you need to look for to ensure you are signing with a legitimate company. If you are in an area that requires alarm companies to be licensed, check that company’s licensing information via the state’s licensing authority. As you read over the contract make sure it has the following information:
- The name of the company that will monitor your security system
- The company’s license number (if applicable)
- If an agent negotiated or solicited the contract, then his or her registration number (I applicable)
- The dates that the service will begin and end
- A description of the home security system that will be installed
- A complete list of other services that will be provided after installation
How can I research the home security company I have chosen?
Before you sign a contract with anyone to purchase a home security system, the FTC and the Attorney General for your state highly recommend that you thoroughly research the security company you have chosen. A thorough search will employ more than one method and it is advised that you use all of these methods to check out the company before doing business with them.
Research the alarm company by contacting the appropriate authorities:
- Better Business Bureau (and get their BBB rating)
- Your local consumer protection agency
- Your state’s Attorney General
- Your state’s licensing officials
You can also ask family and friends about their experiences with their home security company.
OK, I’ve made my choice, what can I expect now?
Once you have made your selection and found a home security system that meets your needs, it is time to put pen to paper and sign that contract. Some cities require an alarm permit so make sure that you check with the company to see if it applies to you.
If your system will be professionally installed you will have to make an appointment for the installer to come. Many companies require that someone age 18 or older is home when they install the equipment. If that is the case make sure someone is there. If you have pets you might want to put them in another room or in the yard so they don’t interfere with the installer.
Ask the company ahead of time if there are any other preparations that they need you to make when they install your home security equipment.
A home security system will help keep you, your family, your home, and your property safe and secure. With so much riding on that one decision you want to make sure that you choose wisely.